THE Department of Interior and Local Government yesterday admonished Cainta Mayor Johnielle Keith Pasion “Kit” Nieto for riding a motorcycle without a helmet in violation of the law last month.
DILG spokesman Jonathan Malaya said: “Election to public office does not grant individuals any special status. Therefore, being a mayor or barangay chairman, etc. does not exempt one from the coverage of our laws.”
But Malaya defended President Duterte who often shuns helmets when riding motorcycles and even figured in a recent accident that caused him pain in his spinal column.
Nieto posted last October 30 a photo of him riding his motorcycle sans helmet on his Facebook page, drawing flak from nitizens. He said he was on the way to the church at that time to attend a wedding.
Nieto initially justified his act, saying he has signed a waiver not to wear helmet on special occasions. He later apologized, acknowledged he made a mistake, and violated the law.
Nieto has said he would secure a citation ticket and pay penalties for his infraction. He has also said he would proceed to the DILG to face any disciplinary action that may be meted against him.
“While Mayor Nieto has already publicly apologized for his act and accepted his shortcomings, the Department underscores the need for elected local officials to lead by example at all times,” said Malaya.
“A mayor has to lead in following the law, not in violating it,” he added.
Asked why the DILG rebuked Nieto when President Duterte also recently rode a motorcycle without helmet and even figured in an accident, Malaya said: “I don’t think there is a comparison.